What is Brookland Manor and What is Happening There?
- A 535-unit affordable housing complex located in Ward 5 of Northeast D.C.
- Many residents at Brookland Manor are large families that have made their home on the property for generations.
- Brookland Manor is one of the few remaining D.C. communities with the four- and five-bedroom apartments necessary to provide safe, adequate housing for these families.
- Developer Mid-City Financial Corporation and its affiliates filed plans with the D.C. Zoning Commission to demolish the property.
- The developer proposes to build in its place a new development, “Brentwood Village,” that excludes large families.
- The developer has justified the eradication of large-size apartments by deeming large low- and moderate-income families ‘not consistent with the creation of a vibrant new community.’”
- Families at Brookland Manor and ONE DC have filed a class action lawsuit in federal court to halt the redevelopment.
Why Brookland Manor Matters:
- Up to 150 long-time Brookland Manor residents, almost all of whom are African-American, will face displacement from their homes solely because of their family status.
- Similar redevelopment throughout D.C. is pushing longtime residents of low- and moderate-income—like those who reside at Brookland Manor— out of neighborhoods that they have invested in for generations.
- Families of color are increasingly forced to relocate to the few, racially concentrated wards, where affordable family-sized housing remains available.
- As a result, the District is re-segregating along racial and economic lines. By eradicating large units, the redevelopment will further exacerbate the pattern of displacement and re-segregation, harming minority communities in the District.
- This redevelopment will tear at the fabric of families’ lives by not only displacing them from their homes but disrupting or cutting off access to vital support structures.
The Affordable Housing Crisis in D.C.
Rapidly rising housing costs and stagnant wages in the D.C. area have seriously impacted the ability of low- and moderate- income families and individuals to find affordable housing. The DC Fiscal Policy Institute reported in 2015 that since 2002, rent for the bottom two quintiles of D.C. renters rose by 14% and 35%, respectively, while their incomes remained stagnant. Additionally, the number of affordably priced apartments in D.C. has rapidly decreased in the last decade. The District has lost nearly half of its affordable apartments. Between 2002 and 2013 the number of apartments renting for $800 a month – a rate that is affordable for a household earning $32,000 a year – declined by 27,000 while the number of units renting for more than $1,600 – rents affordable for households earning greater than $64,000 monthly – increased by nearly 37,000.
Further exacerbating the affordable housing crisis in D.C., subsidies for 15,226 affordable units are expiring on or before 2020. These subsidies, created by contracts between developers and the government, mandate that a certain number of apartments in a property remain affordable, and as they expire developers and property managers will be able to raise the rent to rates that most low income families and individuals cannot afford. Many of these currently subsidized units are at risk of being lost through redevelopment and conversion to condominiums or market-rate non-affordable units, which are in high demand due to the large increase of high-income earners moving to the District since 2000. As a result, it has become increasingly difficult for low-income families to find housing in gentrifying neighborhoods, and the demand for affordable housing continues to skyrocket as the supply rapidly decreases. That being said, measures to preserve affordable housing, while still allowing for redevelopment and improvement of District neighborhoods, are readily accomplished by permitting developers to add density (more units) while preserving the prior affordable units at the current subsidy levels and bedroom sizes.
Lack of Affordable Family-Sized Housing in D.C and Areas Where Such Housing Is Available
Each time affordable apartments are torn down or redeveloped into luxury housing, low-income families are forced to relocate. This pattern is particularly stark for families living in large apartment units. Currently only 21% of housing units in Washington are three bedrooms, 8% are four bedrooms, and 4% are five or more bedrooms. Wards 7 and 8 are home to some of the only affordable four- and five- bedroom apartments in the D.C. area. As a result, the distribution of large families varies intensely across Wards—households of four or more individuals make up only 4% of Ward 2, which is 10% African American, but up to 21% of Ward 8, which is 94% African American. These apartments are not only extremely limited in number and restricted by geography. The Urban Institute’s 2015 report notes that Wards 7 and 8 are affected by poverty more than any other area in D.C. and have high concentrations of African American communities.
African Americans are disproportionately impacted by these redevelopments and are increasingly unable to find affordable housing within the District. This is because of income inequality that follows racial lines. The median African American household income is less than $40,000 while the white median income is in excess of $110,000. Most African American households cannot afford rents above $1,000 while most White households can afford rents of more than $2,700 per month. As a result between 2000 and 2014 the city’s African American population decreased by over 30,000 while increasing in already hyper-segregated Wards 7 and 8 by nearly 3,000. If these families wish to remain in D.C., they are forced to relocate to Wards 7 or 8 because these are the only areas where families can find available affordable housing. As redevelopment drives residents from their homes in mixed income, mixed race and gentrifying areas and into Wards 7 and 8, this pattern of migration perpetuates racial segregation and amplifies the already high concentration of poverty in these areas. Furthermore, the combination of the two trends results in diminishing opportunities for economic mobility among people of color in financial distress.
In sum, rising housing prices and the extreme geographical limitations for affordable family-sized apartments lead more African American families to move into Wards 7 and 8 to find affordable housing suitable for their household size and further perpetuate segregation along economic and racial lines.
The Redevelopment’s Disproportionate and Discriminatory Impact on Families
Under the Fair Housing Act and the District of Columbia Human Rights Act (“Human Rights Act”), housing providers may not intentionally or effectively discriminate on the basis of protected categories, including familial status. According to the developer’s demographic disclosures, the Brookland Manor complex currently includes 75 three-bedroom units, 113 four-bedroom units, and 21 five-bedroom units. It is one of very few complexes in Northeast D.C. that offers large apartments at affordable prices. As of June 2015, these units housed 183 households, 149 of which include minor children and therefore qualify as “families” under the Fair Housing Act and Human Rights Act.
Mid-City has already obtained approval for its first-stage Planned Unit Development (“PUD”) application from the District of Columbia Zoning Commission (the “Commission”). The Commission’s first-stage PUD order adopted Mid-City’s decision to eliminate all four- and five-bedroom units and decrease the number of three-bedroom units on the property from 75 to 64. If the redevelopment moves ahead without any changes to its redevelopment plan, up to 149 families will likely be forcibly displaced from their homes and offered no adequate replacement housing in the redevelopment.
Because large sized apartments are primarily occupied by families, Mid-City’s plan to eliminate four-, and five-bedroom units and reduce three-bedroom units results in an unlawful disparate impact on families—59% of the families living at Brookland Manor will be forced out of their homes and off of the property as a result of the redevelopment as compared to 14.5% of non-families. Their families’ support structures, including access to their jobs, nearby assistive or social-service related programs, and/or their children’s local schools will be disrupted or cut off if they are forced to relocate. And, the continuing loss of affordable housing in D.C. creates a particularly dire situation for the families who could face displacement from Brookland Manor.
According to the Urban Institute’s 2015 Report, households with five or more people are at the highest risk for homelessness. Six percent of the largest households are at a high risk of homelessness, as compared to one to two percent of one-to four-person households. Accordingly, Mid-City’s proposed redevelopment disproportionately impacts families and exacerbates the affordable housing and homelessness crises in the District and threatens the wellbeing of the city’s most vulnerable populations.
 Wes Rivers, Going, Going, Gone: DC’s Vanishing Affordable Housing, A DC Fiscal Policy Report (March 12, 2015) at pages 2-3.
 Id. at 4.
 See Peter Tatian, Josh Leopold, et al., Affordable Housing Needs Assessment for the District of Columbia, Phase II, An Urban Institute Research Report (May 2015) at 4 [hereinafter “Affordable Housing Needs Assessment”].
 U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000 Summary File 3. Issued 2001. Available at http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=CF; U.S. Census Bureau, 2010-2014 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates. Issued 2015. Available at http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=CF.
 Affordable Housing Needs Assessment at 2; see also Appendix A, Table A21 or page 132 (describing the results of a 2008-2012 survey).
 Id. at 18-19.
 Id. 110-111, App. A.
 U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000, Summary File 1. Issued 2001. Available at http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=CF; U.S. Census Bureau, 2014 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, Issued 2015. Available athttp://www.socialexplorer.com/tables/ACS2014/R11213739.
 Affordable Housing Needs Assessment at 4.
 The FHA and DCHRA define “familial status” as “one or more individuals under the age of 18 being domiciled with (1) a parent, legal custodian, or (2) the designee of such parent or legal custodian.” See 42 U.S.C. § 3604(K); D.C. Code § 2-1401.02(11)(A).
 June 2015 Applicant’s Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law at page 6 [hereinafter App. Finding of Fact and Concl. of Law]; see also April 2015 Second Supplemental Pre-Hearing Statement: Tab A (Snapshot of Exhibit Brookland Manor Community) at page 1 [hereinafter April 10, 2015 Pre-Hearing Statement]. All Zoning Commission documents are available at: https://app.dcoz.dc.gov/Content/Search/Search.aspx (see case no. 14-18).
 App. Prop. Findings and Conclusions at page 6; see also June 8, 2015 Applicant’s Post-hearing Statement, Tab C Brookland Manor Demographics Report [hereinafter June 2015 Post-hearing Demographics Report].
 April 10, 2015 Pre-Hearing Statement at 6.
 See June 2015 Post-hearing Demographics Report; Complaint at 17 & ¶¶ 76-77 (available on PACER).